The Blue Jays have had next to no offensive production from their catching duo this year, but with the way the pitching staff has performed it would be foolish to make a change.
Despite the fact that it took until the 7th inning for the Blue Jays to get their first hit against Martin Perez and the Red Sox on Thursday, they found a way to pick up another win.
Much of the credit will go to Teoscar Hernandez again, who came up with both the hit to break up the no-hitter in the 7th, and a three-run blast in the 10th to give the Blue Jays the lead. Taijuan Walker deserves a nod for a second straight quality outing since being acquired from the Mariners ahead of the trade deadline as well. And it would be foolish if we didn’t tip our caps to a bullpen that has become one of the best in baseball, despite missing arguably their top two arms in Ken Giles and Jordan Romano.
However, what about the work of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire? I’m aware that they combined to go 0-4 once again on Thursday night, and that their collective offensive struggles have been brutal this year, but I’d also argue that their contribution to the 2020 campaign has been incredibly important, and that Charlie Montoyo needs to keep rolling with the young duo.
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To be fair, that’s tough to do when they’re both hitting so poorly this year. Jansen is now slashing just .147/.293/.253 over 75 at-bats, and McGuire has somehow been even worse, sporting a line of .077/.077/.154 in 39 trips to the plate. Neither has been particularly great at throwing out runners who are trying to steal either, so it’s tough to make an argument for their continued opportunity, especially if the Blue Jays are serious about making the playoffs this year. The club even took the step of adding Alejandro Kirk to their player pool, although he would need to be added to the 40-man roster as well before he could make a MLB debut.
While some folks are ready to see if Kirk can contribute some offence, or even to see if Caleb Joseph may be worth a look as well (he’s also on the taxi squad), I think the Blue Jays would be foolish to make a switch right now, even if there’s a hole in their batting lineup at the moment. I say that because the performance of the pitching staff has been so good, I don’t think it’s worth messing with such an important part of the success of this club right now.
With the bullpen in particular, the Jays are getting elite production, and a lot of it is coming from unlikely sources. That’s the nature of a volatile area like the bullpen at times, but they’re really getting a lot of bang for their buck when you break things down, and Jansen and McGuire are a part of that success. The coaching staff is also intimately involved in the game planning, as is the scouting department, but the buck stops with the backstop when it comes to putting it into action. Their work has been especially important as they’ve helped guide starters-turned-relievers like Ryan Borucki, Anthony Kay, Tom Hatch, Julian Merryweather and more through an unfamiliar process.
I know it’s not ideal, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you don’t fix what isn’t broken, and that’s how I see the Blue Jays performance from their pitching staff. I realize that comes with the sacrifice of offence from the catching position, at least until one or both can start swinging the bat a little better, but it’s a pretty important area to mess with, especially if you’re seriously talking about handing the keys to an inexperienced option like Kirk as an alternative.
For what it’s worth, I have faith that the current catching duo will turn things around at the plate, or at least start contributing more than they have thus far in 2020. However, even if they can’t hit the broad side of a barn for the rest of the year, as long as the pitching staff keeps this up, I wouldn’t change a thing.